Web Paint-by-Number Forum
Topic #1067: Author variety in the list of Recently Published Puzzles
By Valerie Mates (valerie)

#1: Valerie Mates (valerie) on Nov 30, 2023

On the front page, I am thinking about changing the section with Recently Published Puzzles so that it will show more variety of puzzle authors, by having a maximum of eight puzzles per author listed there. People could still find the full list of recently published puzzles with Find Puzzles and Puzzle List. But this way there would always be several different puzzle authors shown in Recently Published Puzzles.

I would appreciate feedback about whether this would be an okay change. What do you think?
#2: David Bouldin (dbouldin) on Dec 1, 2023
I like that idea! I really like the influx of puzzles recently. I don't want to sound like I don't, but seeing a full page of a single author is, from a creator standpoint, a bit daunting. If I were to make a puzzle right now, I probably wouldn't want to publish it until things slow down. Little disheartening to put in the time to create a puzzle for it to roll off the page so quickly.
#3: Wombat (wombatilim) on Dec 1, 2023
I like the idea as well. An additional suggestion: Even though there's a big "puzzle list" link in the sidebar, it might be helpful to link to it at the bottom of the Recent Puzzles list as well, since that's where people will be looking once they've finished that list, maybe with a "More puzzles" text.
#4: Brian Bellis (mootpoint) on Dec 1, 2023
I have experienced all three sides of this issue. I have gotten on a roll and created a bunch of puzzles that pushed other creators' puzzles off the front page. I have had my puzzles last on the front page for just a day or two because of another creator's prolific output. And, of course as a solver, I have missed puzzles I may have wanted to solve because they have been buried in the deluge.

How would it work? If I were to publish 10 puzzles, which eight would appear? If one of my eight were to scroll off the bottom, would another of my 10 show up or did I miss my window?

Would it be a good idea to only publish eight at a time and wait to publish the other two until I have space?
#5: Brian Bellis (mootpoint) on Dec 1, 2023
As of this writing, my last published puzzle was from ten days ago. Since then 195 puzzles have been published.

Also, I notice that my recent puzzles have fewer comments than usual. I assume that is due to the disappearance off the main page.
#6: Norma Dee (norm0908) on Dec 1, 2023
i like your idea Valerie. Some of our regulars have had a spurt every now and then but it never went on day after day after day after.......well, you get the idea. i would certainly look forward to seeing more puzzles from our long time contributers again.
#7: Valerie Mates (valerie) on Dec 1, 2023
Wombatilim - adding a link there would make sense. Thank you for the idea!

Brian - I coded a test version of it that isn't online yet. It works by starting at the top of the Recently Published Puzzles list and keeping count for each author. When an author has eight puzzles in the list, it stops adding more by that author to the list. So, for each author in the list who had published more than eight recent puzzles, it would show the author's most recent eight puzzles. The list would still be twenty puzzles long.

I think it would be up to you whether to publish eight at a time and then wait to publish more, or use some other approach, or to use different approaches depending on what you'd prefer at the time.

(I should also add that this change was a super quick piece of code to write. My youngest kid is pretty much a perpetual crisis, but it's currently at fever pitch. So I may disappear and reappear from this topic depending on how that goes.)
#8: Bill Eisenmann (Bullet) on Dec 3, 2023
I too would like to see a change limiting the number of new puzzles per author per day. But this also conflicts me, because I would never want to discourage puzzle creation.

In my good number of years on this site, I have never seen such a rapidly prolific creator like Jedi Mike. He creates so many so fast that I can't keep up. And I don't want him to stop, or even slow down, as possibly he has a need that is being satisfied.

One idea is that any creator who publishes a large volume in a short time could be given a link, so the Recently Published Puzzles list would say, maybe, Puzzles 35,123 - 35,168 click here, leaving room for other new puzzles.

Thoughts? Possible?
#9: gregg licht (Lgreg) on Dec 3, 2023
Good idea, Bill. I'm wondering if the same could be accomplished (maybe with less coding effort) with a link sending the user to the Find Puzzles page, pre-populated with the name of the prolific creator. With one click you'd see all the most recent puzzles of that creator.

I'd even lean toward showing only their three most recent puzzles on the the Puzzle List page with a fourth entry containing the link to the pre-populated Find Puzzles page and possibly other info, like how many of their puzzles were created in the last 24 hours.
#10: Valerie Mates (valerie) on Dec 3, 2023
Bill - I too like the idea of having a link that shows all the rest of the puzzles. I am thinking that a single link to a page that shows all of the recently created puzzles, starting with the most recent, would do the trick. (This was Wombatilim's idea.) Also, note that for all current users, their username is clickable to see their bio, which has a link to all of the puzzles that they have created. So that gives everybody an easy route to finding all of the puzzles by a particular creator, using a feature that already is here.

I should clarify that if I make the change that I am asking about, there would not be any limit on creating puzzles -- people could still create as many as they want. There would only be a limit on how many puzzles by each author are shown in the Recently Published Puzzles list. The other puzzles that they create would be here on the site too, just not listed in that list.

Greg -- I agree that a link like that would do the trick. Also it's worth noting that clicking on anybody's username gives a link to all of their puzzles, so that option is already here.
#11: Scott (McEncheese) on Dec 3, 2023
I was actually going to suggest renaming "Recently Published Puzzles" to "Jedi Mike Zone".
#12: Valerie Mates (valerie) on Dec 3, 2023
Jedi Mike? If you are reading this, I'd appreciate hearing your input. What do you think?
#13: Ella Hustwitt (Dragonfyre) on Dec 4, 2023
I'm not sure if this might work, but I noticed that when a wave of puzzles arrives, they are usually all a part of a group/collection, for example Jedi Mikes recent twilight zone puzzles. Maybe there could be a option to for the creator to make folders for these groups? Either as a drop down or as a link to the folder, whichever would be easier to code. This would help clear some space for others while avoiding the issue of puzzles not getting shown.
#14: Valerie Mates (valerie) on Dec 5, 2023
Thanks Ella -- I like that!

One thing on my wishlist for someday is the ability to tag puzzles with keywords, and then people would be able to click on a keyword to get a list of puzzles on that topic. Some of the keywords would have a time when they are current, for example Halloween would get a range of dates in late October, and then I would add a new section to the front page that shows puzzles on a current topic. For keywords like "The Twilight Zone" that don't have a season, I am thinking that the new section could choose one of those topics to fill in on days in between seasonal topics.

It's looking like I'm about to have some programming time to work on the site, so I could start catching up on the wishlist then.
#15: David Bouldin (dbouldin) on Dec 5, 2023
While you are coding, I have what I think is a relatively easy request :P Can the key that is at the bottom of the Puzzle List page also appear at the bottom of the Home page? Thanks as always for everything that you do for us Valerie! It is even more appreciated than we can express!
#16: Brian Bellis (mootpoint) on Dec 5, 2023
At first I was leaning toward the change, but I've been thinking lately that maybe we shouldn't be too hasty. I would hate to be stifling anyone's creative output. I think some would feel put upon if they published ten puzzles but only eight "show up". The puzzles that are pushed from the main page are just as assessable now as those other puzzles from a prolific creator that are unseen would be. People who create puzzles who have bursts of enthusiasm perhaps should be given free reign. I, for one, would prefer more puzzles to solve rather than fewer.
#17: Brian Bellis (mootpoint) on Dec 5, 2023
Here are some brain (brian) storm ideas that might be tried instead.
Some of our regular users and solvers could curate a weekly gallery of puzzles with categories such as seasonal favorites, missed gems, authors profiled, forgotten classics, remember the series..., small but mighty, extravaganzas, fun with puns, from the early days, etc.

It would be like the employee's picks at the video store (remember those?)
#18: Brian Bellis (mootpoint) on Dec 5, 2023
If we were to ever bring back the weekly puzzle challenge, it would be nice if they were in a separate category on the main page so that they were easy to find and solve.
#19: Valerie Mates (valerie) on Dec 5, 2023
I would love to see the weekly puzzle challenge come back!

There were some ideas that were floated to make it easier for the judges, such as simply having a theme for creators without requiring the judges to solve all of the submitted puzzles and agree on winners. That seems reasonable to me.

David: Showing that key on the front page is a good idea -- thanks!
#20: Courtenay Footman (Courtenay) on Dec 6, 2023
I would very much appreciate a way of limiting the number of puzzles by one author on the front page.
#21: Norma Dee (norm0908) on Dec 6, 2023
I loved the weekly challenge. My main interest was to see the different interpretations of the same subject.
#22: Barb Edwards (babarann) on Dec 7, 2023
I rarely use the Home button; I go right to Puzzle List or Find Puzzles. I understand the drawbacks of having the prolific author taking up the whole recent puzzles display (which also happens on the Puzzle List page) but community contributions are the foundation of this site, and I, as one who is no good at creating puzzles, welcome their efforts, especially when the puzzles are solvable and not of the bold "massive guessing" variety! That said, to be fair to other creators, a limit to the number of puzzles by one author would give other creators the same chance to be spotlighted in the recents list.

Off topic but since you mentioned the wish list, I wish the grids were all multiples of five. I'd rather see a little white space on the edges than have to count the extra rows or columns as I'm solving. Maybe it's just me but maybe others' brains work this way too!

Thanks, Valerie! I so appreciate your attention to this site and all of us puzzlers!
#23: Bill Eisenmann (Bullet) on Dec 8, 2023
Geez, no new puzzles from Jedi Mike. I hope all is well ...
#24: Valerie Mates (valerie) on Dec 8, 2023
Bill -- Me too. I posted this topic, and then Mike silently stopped posting puzzles, so I am worried that he may feel that this was a complaint about him, and it is definitely not! I want other authors to be seen too, but I like that he is posting lots of puzzles!

I tried e-mailing him a few days ago to ask him to comment here, but so far haven't seen a reply.

Mike, I would appreciate hearing your thoughts about this topic. You are an important part of this discussion, and your thoughts are valued and would be appreciated if you choose to comment here.
#25: Valerie Mates (valerie) on Jan 3, 2024
I haven't changed any code yet.

Does anybody know how to contact Mike? Mike, I would appreciate your input.
#26: Tom Siebert (tsiebert) on Jan 13, 2024
With thousands of puzzles still unsolved, I used to use the Puzzle List with criteria. But I got really tired of every puzzle being by the same author, so I changed to using Find Puzzles with similar criteria but listing the results in Create Date order. I don't mind doing this since I have so many unsolved, but the change was prompted by the same frustration so many have expressed about one author basically hogging the limelight, and for a VERY long period. I can appreciate the creativity, but it's really pretty selfish toward other authors. (I'm only a solver. I'm not an author, so I have no vested interest in that regard.)
#27: Valerie Mates (valerie) on Jan 13, 2024
Hm. Me personally, I think it's generous when people create puzzles. But there are so many puzzle authors whose puzzles I love that I do like to be able to find puzzles by a number of authors.
#28: Valerie Mates (valerie) on Feb 20, 2024
Update: I turned on the code that limits the front page to show a maximum of eight puzzles by one author.
#29: David Bouldin (dbouldin) on Feb 21, 2024
That seems more than fair. Looks like it might already be coming in handy ;)
#30: Norma Dee (norm0908) on Feb 21, 2024
Thank you.
#31: Valerie Mates (valerie) on Mar 21, 2024
I did what David suggested in #15: Added the key from the Puzzle List page to the Home page. I'm at the end of my programming time right now, but there is at least one other page that I also plan to add it to soon.
#32: David Bouldin (dbouldin) on Mar 22, 2024
Many thanks!! For some reason I just can't get them stuck in my head :P
#33: Valerie Mates (valerie) on Mar 29, 2024
Update to #31: I noticed a puzzle with a ! symbol next to it, which wasn't listed in the key at the end of the page, so I did a careful check of all of the symbols and made sure that they are all there. (There are actually a bunch of boldface black question marks for various puzzle combinations that should never happen, but because those puzzle combinations should never happen, I didn't include them in the key.) But the ! symbol now *is* in the key.
#34: David Bouldin (dbouldin) on Mar 30, 2024
Thank you Valerie!
#35: Valerie Mates (valerie) on Mar 31, 2024
Just adding that I too never remember the meanings of those symbols. "Contains blots" is the only one that I do remember. The rest are all grouped in my mind as "this puzzle can't be logically solved." Even without knowing which reason it is, for me that pretty much works.
#36: Kristen Vognild (kristen) on Apr 3, 2024
from what I recall, the ! denotes a puzzle that requires Deep Lookahead.
#37: Valerie Mates (valerie) on Apr 3, 2024
Yup. ! means "Has a unique solution, but much lookahead is required to find it."

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